By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Nutter administration is hoping for City Council approval of a plan to double the number of bus shelters in the city and to improve the quality of the existing shelters.
But some city residents are less than pleased.
Today, the Public Property and Public Works committee of City Council gave preliminary approval to a 20-year contract between the city and Titan Advertising for new bus shelters.
Andrew Stober, chief of staff in the Mayor’s Office of Transportation (top photo), says Titan will upgrade the 300 existing bus shelters, and build 300 more.
“Tens of thousands of transit riders each day are going to benefit from having new transit shelters to sit in, transit shelters that are lit, transit shelters with benches, transit shelters that fit appropriately on the sidewalk,” he told the committee.
Titan will spend more than $12 million on the new shelters and will share advertising revenue from the shelters with the city.
“We have guaranteed $52 million in minimum payments to the city,” said Titan’s chief commercial officer, Scott Goldsmith, “and we believe that we will probably pay them an additional $47 million in overage payments, for a total of $100 million over the 20-year contract.”
Voicing opposition to the deal was Charles Goodwin of the Center City Residents’ Association (photo below), who told the committee that the new shelters lack what shelters in other cities offer, such as real-time data on when the next bus will arrive.
“The bus shelters we seem to be getting under this deal seem to be very much 1990s bus shelters, not 2014 bus shelters — or, more importantly, 2035 bus shelters, when this contract will end,” Goodwin said.
And he bemoaned the lack of restrictions in the contract on the shelter advertising.
“As written, we can have pawn shops, casinos, cash for gold, payday lenders, We Buy Homes, and any number of other nuisance advertisers that prey on city residents,” he noted.
Also voicing concerns was John McInerney of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, who said the deal could curtail discounted-rate advertising that Alliance members now receive.
Stober, of the Nutter administration, disagrees.
“We expanded the amount of arts-and-culture advertising that’s going to be available at a discounted rate for arts and cultural institutions in the city by almost a third,” he said. “And we’ve guaranteed that availability for the next 20 years.”
The committee in the end approved the deal but wants the administration to address various concerns before a final vote next week.